Steve English


Eight hours, three teams, one (eventual) winner. This year’s Suzuka 8-Hours had it all, but it also showed again that the differences between Kawasaki, Yamaha, and Honda are such that each has to approach the race in different ways.

Yamaha opted for balance, Honda for an advantage in the pits, and Kawasaki on the pace of Jonathan Rea and consistency of Leon Haslam.

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Race day at the Suzuka 8-Hours has no shortage of pageantry. The crown jewel in the FIM Endurance World Championship, the Suzuka 8-Hours might be the most important race in all of motorcycling, and it certainly holds that distinction in Japan.

With all that said, this year’s edition was truly a spectacle, as the three factory teams from Honda, Kawasaki, and Yamaha fought in close-quarters the entire race, giving fans quite the treat.

With a few seconds or less between them for almost the entire eight-hour race, we saw no shortage of passes and strategy, making this a race well-worth watching.

As is often the case with the five round FIM Endurance World Championship, the season is going down to the wire at the Suzuka 8-Hours.

The Japanese showcase offers bumper points for the finale, so with only five points between the leading duo, Kawasaki France and the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT), there is still everything to fight for.

The TSR Honda outfit, last year’s world champions, have struggled this year and sits 23 points adrift, but they still stand a chance of the title courtesy of the points system that sees 45 points on offer to the winner this weekend.

Photos: © 2019 Steve English – All Rights Reserved

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Why is the Suzuka 8-Hours dominated by Bridgestone tires? During last year’s edition, Michael Laverty and Sylvain Guintoli sat down with Asphalt & Rubber to explain why Bridgestone is the preferred tire of choice at Suzuka.

Even the most talkative factory riders get tight lipped when the topic of tires is raised. After taking nine tenths of a second off the unofficial lap record, Jonathan Rea was asked to compare the feeling with Bridgestone tires compared to the Pirelli rubber used in WorldSBK.

The triple world champion side-stepped that landmine with customary ease by saying “they're both very high performance tires.”

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Tick, tock, tick, tock. As those second hands keep moving when you’re in the pits at the Suzuka 8-Hours the time being lost can be huge.

In many cases, it’s been the difference between winning and losing the great Japanese race. It might last eight hours, but the race is defined by how much, or most importantly how little, time your bike spends in the pits.

Getting the bike in and out quickly is just as important as being quick through the twists and turns of the track. You can’t win the race in the pits, but we have seen time and again that the 8-Hours can be lost in the pits.

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Another year and another Suzuka 8 Hours. This year’s edition promises to be unlike any another in recent years.

Honda and Kawasaki are ready to take a shot at Yamaha, and Suzuki is once again lurking in the background with a package that could spring a surprise.

Yamaha returns as the four-time defending champion, with an unchanged lineup on the #21 Yamaha Factory Racing Team machine.

Katsuyuki Nakasuga missed last year’s edition after a crash ruled him out of the race, but the Japanese star is back in action this year and feeling confident. Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark split the duties last year and return this year, but there’s been changes to the R1 for this year’s race.

The Suzuka 8-Hours is around the corner. Testing is already underway for some of the leading riders, and it will only ramp up in the coming weeks.

Flying back and forth to Japan isn’t easy for anyone, but it is what is needed if you will be able to challenge at the great Japanese race.

The past weeks saw a host of announcements for rider lineups, with some interesting developments for what we will see on the last weekend of July.

The 8-Hours is the biggest race on the calendar for the Japanese manufacturers, and still the race that has the biggest impact on a rider’s fortunes with them. Yamaha, Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Honda have now all announced their top teams, but what does it mean?

Time ticks by quickly on the Mountain Course, but when there are delays at the Isle of Man TT, it drags on like nothing else.

Last year’s edition will be remembered for the sheer speed, with lap records falling in all classes, but this year will remembered for all the missed session. The less people think about 2019 Isle of Man TT, the better.

The weather gods didn’t play ball and one delay rolled into another. It was a miracle that a full slate of races was completed and Gary Thompson, the clerk of the course, should be commended for his foresight.

Lee Johnston claimed the first Isle of Man TT victory of his career in Monday's Supersport TT Race 1. Having won the class at the North West 200, the Northern Irishman was expected to be a contender on his Yamaha YZF-R6, but after finally breaking his duck, it was clear just how special this was for The General.

“I’m so emotional,” said Johnston afterwards. “This place is so weird, and I feel like I haven’t done anything different, but it just clicked. In one way it’s frustrating, but in another it’s amazing. I’m absolutely over the moon."

"I probably haven’t been the easiest person to live with because of all the stress, but this is what we do it for. It’s something I always wanted to do, and there’s one person [my dad] I wish was here to see that. He won’t be, but hopefully he’s looking down.”

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Bikes were finally back on track at the Isle of Man TT! A sigh of relief was heard around the island when the weather gods played ball for final practice before races get underway at TT 2019.

Last year’s Isle of TT was historic. The lap record was broken in every class and Peter Hickman became the first rider to smash through the 135mph barrier. It was a stunning TT, where riders enjoyed the fruits of an Indian Summer on the island.

With practice week in perfect conditions last year, they were able to get as many miles under their belts as they deemed enough to do. It was perfect. It was bliss. It was, unfortunately, too good to be true for 2019.